Cairn and O’Flynn make final bids for €400m Ulster Bank loans portfolio

Zoned land in Dublin could accommodate some 20,000 houses and apartments


Irish property group Cairn Homes and Cork developer Michael O’Flynn both met the deadline for final bids yesterday on Project Clear, a portfolio of Ulster Bank loans backed by zoned land in Dublin for residential property.

A third party is also thought to have lodged an offer but this could not be confirmed.

A decision on the winning bid is expected this week, with the price achieved likely to come in at between €400 million and €500 million.

1,850 acres

At one point yesterday, there were strong indications that Cairn Homes, which is based in Dublin but listed in London, had submitted a joint bid with Lone Star but this was scotched by a source close to the US investment group.

The loans in Project Clear are secured against 1,850 acres of zoned land in Dublin that is earmarked for residential purposes. The land represents 17 per cent of all the space zoned for residential use in the capital and could accommodate some 20,000 houses and apartments.

The loans had a face value of €2.1 billion and were associated with a large group of developers from the pre-crash era including Liam Carroll, Joe O’Reilly, Sean Dunne, Michael Whelan, Sean Mulryan, Treasury Holdings and Thomas Hopkins, a former senior manager in AIB who was involved in property investment.

The portfolio is being sold by RBS Capital Resolution, the arm of Ulster Bank’s UK parent group charged with selling its problem loans.

No comment was available from Ulster Bank, Cairn Homes or Mr O’Flynn.

Cairn Homes yesterday said it had raised €52.1 million through a share placing with shareholders to help fund acquisitions.

“The funds raised will enable us to continue to acquire attractive residential development sites,” chief executive Michael Stanley said.

Mr O’Flynn recently put together a €400 million funding package with New York-based Avenue Capital Group.